Salem gets $850,000 in teacher incentive grants

SALEM – There were exclamations of awe and applause as Gov. Bob McDonnell announced today that Salem is receiving $850,000 in teacher incentive grants to encourage increased student achievement and use of technology.

It’s the largest of the Strategic Teacher Compensation Grants in the state, under the governor’s education reform agenda approved by the 2013 General Assembly. Salem teachers came up with the criteria for a teacher incentive program locally in 2011, which impressed the state education department and the governor to expand the idea statewide.

Salem’s plan was developed under the leadership of West Salem Elementary School third-grade teacher Amanda Gibson.

At today’s announcement, Roanoke City Schools got the second-largest grant, also announced today, of $706,307 for incentive payment for 125 teachers at three city elementary schools: Garden City, Morningside and Westside.

Salem’s grant will make up to $5,000 available for the 302 teachers who meet individual, school and division goals.

McDonnell made the announcement in person at 1:30 today in the library of Andrew Lewis Middle School in Salem. In the audience were all the members of the Salem School Board, the mayor and most of Salem City Council, and 56 teachers and educational leaders from Salem and 13 other counties and cities that applied for Strategic Teacher Compensation Grants.

After the awards, Salem School Board Chairman Dave Preston said, “What a great opportunity to continue investing in the children through the teachers.”

In addition to Salem School Superintendent Dr. Alan Seibert, Dr. Rita Bishop of  Roanoke City Schools was there, and representatives of Amelia, Chesapeake, Cumberland Dinwiddie, Fluvanna, Gloucester, Goochland, harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Portsmouth. Those school divisions will receive from $26,250 to $450,000 for various incentive programs.

ALMS Principal Dr. Forest Jones opened the announcement by pointing out the school has a proud history dating back to when it was built as Andrew Lewis High School in 1932.

For more details, see this week’s Aug. 15 print issue of the Salem Times-Register.